I remember back in the days before my life was ruled by work, when I could hear about some activity or club or place you could visit, and think, “Yeah! I wanna do that!” And then I could spend hours doing that thing, maybe for weeks or months on end, and it would never occur to me that maybe people get paid for doing it.
Like, I know I’m a dork, but editing the school paper and taking photos for yearbook seemed fun. Not like work at all. Interning at my local public radio station felt like something I should be paying for, not the other way around, because it felt so freaking cool. Ditto for being an assistant counselor at sleepaway camp, and teaching preteens about the great outdoors.
I know my experience was not universal, and lots of people did not have the freedom of that kind of time in high school (my dad valued education above everything and made clear that my job was school, and all the things that go along with that), so having those years when money wasn’t a ruling force in my life is something I’ll always be grateful for.
Because those years taught me an important lesson:
There are things you would never choose to do, things you’d choose to do if paid enough, things you’d happily do for pay, and things you’d happily do for free.
Most of us live our adult lives in those middle two zones: the things we do by choice because we get paid to, and – if we’re lucky – things we get paid to do but are happy to do under those circumstances.
That fourth zone, though – things we’d happily do for free – are typically the domain of the young and the old, or